Archive for July 2nd, 2009
The first three calendar months of the 2009 baseball season are now in the books, marking the worst month the Mets have played since the dark days of September 2003. With Mets fans seeking out the nearest bridge, we here at OhMurph would like to give our bretheren a bit of perspective.
After posting a winning 2005 season that signaled that the franchise had turned a corner, the Mets have essentially remained a competitive club since. Sure, three consecutive tough finishes were tought to swallow. Some signings in the past couple of seasons may have seemed questionable (two-year extension for Guillermo Mota?), and some acquisitions may not have totally panned out as planned (Ambiorix Burgos comes to mind). Injuries to older players have taken their tool (Pedro Martinez, Moises Alou) and lack of executing the fundamentals has also been a problem. You get the point. But riddle me this: how many teams were immune from some, or all, of the above? Looking at the bigger picture, the Mets have been there to the end the last three years.
You could be a Pirates fan, due for a 17th consecutive losing season. Some other small-market teams like the Minnesota Twins and more recently the Tampa Bay Rays have been able to use smart drafting and trades to be competitve. Big-market teams, like the Yankees, patch over problems with money. Other teams like the Dodgers and Red Sox try to do both. And what about the Mets? Lets see what a Mets lineup would look like if they were a small-market team:
Alex Cora, SS – a lifetime .246 hitter who hasn’t had a full time role since 2004
Luis Castillo, 2B – gimpy slap hitter fast approaching his mid-30s on a bloated contract
David Wright, 3B – the new Franchise, fan favorite homegrown talent shouldering the offensive and leadership burden
Ryan Church, RF – part of an unpopular trade, has battled injuries and still awaiting a breakout season at age 30
Nick Evans, LF – promising Mets rookie with some pop and who also plays 1B; exactly the type of trade bait an injury-ravaged team dangles at the deadline
Daniel Murphy, 1B – see above, minus the rookie status
Fernando Martinez, CF – gem of the farm system being pressed to produce as a 20-year old at the big league level, hitting .180, or just 20 points higher than Mike Pelfrey
Brian Schneider, C – defensively average backstop who just barely escapes ‘black hole’ status at the bottom of the lineup
Gary Sheffield, Fernando Tatis, Jeremy Reed, Omir Santos, Argenis Reyes, bench – a collection of has-beens and never-weres who, aside from Santos, might hit a little or field a little, but never both
There you have it – one cornerstone player, a couple of servicable guys, a few farm talents who may never see a future with the team, and a bunch of warm bodies. Does it look familiar? That’s the lineup Jerry Manuel ran out against Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo on Wednesday.
A contending team will have some shortcomings, but take all the division leaders and stick three of their four most productive bats on the DL for dozens of games combined and see if they can stay within two games of first place. Fortunately for the Mets, their big guns have a chance to come back and produce with lots of season left to play. For teams like the Pirates, however, this type of lineup has been a way of life for years now.
So while dropped pop ups and bad baserunning has no place on any major league team, keep things in perspective – it really could be a lot worse. The division remains up for grabs in the short term, and the front office remains committed to fielding a competitive team in the long term. If the end is nigh, well, there’s plenty of room for you at PNC Park.